Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 22 (1907)


Ms 67, 1907

God’s People to be Living Epistles


July 6, 1907 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in CG 148-149; 6BC 1117-1118; 1MR 117-118.

In God’s covenant with His people in ancient times, directions were given for the faithful recognition of the gracious and marvelous works which He had done for them. God delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt. He brought them into their own land and gave them goodly heritage and sure dwelling places. And He asked of them a recognition of His marvelous works. The first fruits of the earth were to be consecrated to God and given back to Him as an offering of gratitude, an acknowledgement of His goodness to them. For they said: “When we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: and He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which Thou, O Lord, hast given me.” [Deuteronomy 26:7-10.] 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 1

Concerning these offerings the Lord said, “And thou shalt set it before the Lord God, and worship before the Lord thy God: and thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.” They were to remember “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.” [Verses 10-12.] This was a standing requirement. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 2

“This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice.” [Verses 16, 17.] This is not the voice of man. It is the voice of Christ from the infolding pillar of cloud. Read carefully all of (Deuteronomy 26), also chapters 27 and 28; for here are stated plainly the blessings of obedience. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 3

These directions, which the Lord has given to His people, express the principles of the law of the kingdom of God; and they are made specific, so that the minds of the people may not be left in ignorance and uncertainty. These Scriptures present the never-ceasing obligation of all whom God has blessed with life and health and advantages in temporal and spiritual things. The message has not grown weak because of age. God’s claims are just as binding now, just as fresh in their importance, as God’s gifts are fresh and continual. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 4

Lest any should forget these important directions, Christ has repeated them with His own voice. He calls His followers to a life of consecration and self-denial. He says: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Matthew 16:24.] This means what it says. Only by self-denial and self-sacrifice can we show that we are true disciples of Christ. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 5

Christ counted it essential to remind His people that obedience to the commandments of God is for their present and future good. Obedience brings a blessing, disobedience a curse. Besides, when the Lord in a special manner favors His people, He exhorts them publicly to acknowledge His goodness. In this way, His name will be glorified; for such an acknowledgement is a testimony that His words are faithful and true. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 6

“Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee.” [Deuteronomy 26:11.] Thanksgiving and praise should be expressed to God for temporal blessings and for whatever comforts He bestows upon us. God would have every family that He is preparing to inhabit the eternal mansions above give glory to Him for the rich treasures of His grace. Were children, in the home life, educated and trained to be grateful to the Giver of all good things, we would see an element of heavenly grace manifest in our families. Cheerfulness would be seen in the home life, and coming from such homes, the youth would bring a spirit of respect and reverence with them into the school room and into the church. There would be an attendance in the sanctuary where God meets with His people, a reverence for all the ordinances of His worship, and grateful praise and thanksgiving would be offered for all the gifts of His providence. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 7

If the Word of the Lord were now as strictly carried out as it was then enjoined upon ancient Israel, fathers and mothers would give to their children an example which would be of the highest value. Instruction in the Word would be given, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, and in such households God and heavenly angels would continually minister. Every temporal blessing would be received with gratitude and every spiritual blessing become doubly precious because the perception of each member of the household had become sanctified by the Word of truth. The Lord Jesus is very near to those who thus appreciate His gracious gifts, tracing all their good things back to the benevolent, loving, care-taking God and recognizing Him as the great Fountain of all comfort and consolation, the inexhaustible Source of grace. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 8

The offering that is made to God without a spirit of reverence and gratitude He does not accept. It is the humble, grateful, reverential heart that makes the offering as a sweet-smelling savor acceptable to God. The children of Israel might have given all their substance, but given in a spirit of self-sufficiency or Pharisaism, as though God were indebted to them for their favors, their offerings would have been unaccepted and utterly contemned by Him. It is our privilege, by diligently trading on our Lord’s goods, to increase our store, so that we may impart to those who have fallen into distress. Thus we become the Lord’s right hand to work out His benevolent purposes. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 9

There must be no withholding on our part, of our service or our means, if we would fulfil our covenant with God. “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.” [Verse 16.] The purpose of all God’s commandments is to reveal man’s duty not only to God, but to his fellow man. In this late age of the world’s history, we are not, because of the selfishness of our hearts, to question or dispute the right of God to make these requirements, or we will deceive ourselves and rob our souls of the richest blessings of the grace of God. Heart and mind and soul are to be merged in the will of God. Then the covenant, framed by the dictates of infinite wisdom, and made binding by the power and authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords, will be our pleasure. God will have no controversy with us in regard to these binding precepts. It is enough that He has said that obedience to His statutes and laws is the life and prosperity of His people. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 10

The blessings of God’s covenant are mutual. “The Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou hast shouldest keep all His commandments; and to make thee high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as He hath spoken.” [Verses 18, 19.] God accepts those who will work for His name’s glory, to make His name a praise in a world of apostasy and idolatry. He will be exalted by His commandment-keeping people, that He may make them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 11

By our baptismal pledge we avouched and solemnly confessed the Lord Jehovah as our Ruler. We virtually took a solemn oath, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that henceforth our lives would be merged into the life of these three great agencies, that the life we should live in the flesh would be lived in faithful obedience to God’s sacred law. We declared ourselves dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, that henceforth we should walk with Him in newness of life, as men and women having experienced the new birth. We acknowledged God’s covenant with us and pledged ourselves to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. By our profession of faith we acknowledged the Lord as our God and yielded ourselves to obey His commandments. By obedience to God’s Word we testify before angels and men that we live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 12

Through the prophet Zephaniah God declares the position He purposes His people shall occupy before the nations of the earth: “Sing, O daughter of Zion: shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. ... The Lord the God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing. ... Behold at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them fame and praise in every land where they have been put to shame. And at that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all the people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.” [Zephaniah 3:14, 17, 19, 20.] 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 13

The Lord would have His people stand true to His honor and guard carefully the interests of one another. “All ye are brethren,” He declares. [Matthew 23:8.] No injustice, no false dealing is to mark their actions. The Lord entrusts means and advantages to His stewards, that they may guard the interests of one another, that there may be unity among His covenant-keeping people, and that they may be a praise to Him in the earth. He calls them to be a people whom He can ever bless with still greater advantages, both temporal and spiritual, and thus honor them above the transgressors of His law. He would have them ever keep in memory the fact that they are to do His work in the earth, to be His hands of ministration, imparting His blessings and gifts to men. It is the design of God that in the unity of those who believe in Christ, the gospel of Jesus shall be proclaimed to the world. Those who have accepted the gift of His Son are to co-operate with Him in saving others. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 14

All the children of God are embraced in the sonship of Christ. They are members of one family and should enjoy that unity one with another that exists between the Father and the Son. They are to love as brethren. If this characteristic is not manifest in the lives of those who profess to believe the truth, if in their lives the principles of the law of God are not demonstrated to an unbelieving world, if professed believers act out the perversity of the sinner, God must treat them as sinners. Such souls need to be converted before they can be trusted with responsibilities; for they give evidence that there is a deficiency in their lives, a departure from the righteous principles of the law of Jehovah. This separates the soul from God, so that they do not receive the quickening, discerning power of the divine mind. The mind is not fashioned and molded by God, because the capabilities are not working out the divine principles contained in the law of God. The power of God is not seen in their discernment, in their choice of words, or in a care to preserve the fragrance of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Self, unsanctified self, spoils their influence. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 15

The third chapter of Ephesians contains a lesson for all teachers, for ministers of the gospel, and for all who occupy positions of responsibility in the work of God. When imperfections of character are manifest in those who should be ensamples to the flock, those who set a wrong example in the school, in the church, in the world—wherever they may be—should be advised to take up some other work where they will not lead others in a wrong direction. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 16

The message of the gospel, from Genesis to Revelation, is God’s appointed means through which to reveal His will to men. It is to be appreciated, respected, and carefully studied. In a humble, prayerful spirit, Scripture is to be compared with Scripture. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the plan of God is so plainly and simply revealed, that all His children may lay hold upon the truth. Here the means which He has appointed to keep unity in His church, that its members may reveal to the world a healthy religious experience, is plainly declared. Those who conform their lives to obedience to the commandments of God, and are united in the faith of the Scriptures; those who are bound together as one in Christ Jesus, their lives hid with Christ in God, will practice the golden rule, doing to others as they would have others do to them. They will bear a living, abiding testimony that the Father loves them even as He loves His Son, and their testimony will have a powerful influence with the unbelieving world. These souls appreciate the great gift of God to our world; their course in life testifies that Christ has not died for them in vain. They make use of the provision made by heaven at infinite cost to draw souls to obedience to the law of God. Co-operating with the great Master Worker, they become laborers together with God. They become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Their consistent Christian lives magnify the law of God and make it honorable before the gainsaying world. Their deportment in courtesy and unwavering fidelity, their justice and mercy demonstrate to the world that the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 17

“Ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building,” the apostle declares. [1 Corinthians 3:9.] The perfecting of a Christian character is a living testimony that God lives, and that His power is working miracles upon His consecrated followers. Those who love one another as Christ has loved them bear a living testimony that unseen agencies are working upon human hearts, bringing them into conformity to the divine Word. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 18

The blessings of grace, which for Christ’s sake the Lord bestows upon those who believe, are the fruits of His eternal purpose, given that all believers may adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour. This doctrine must permeate the whole being in order that its influence may be felt in the family, in the church, and all the associations of life. This alone can distinguish us as those who keep the commandments of God. As did Christ in His human nature, so we are to show to the universe of heaven, to the church, and to the world that we are living the principles of the law of the kingdom of heaven. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 19

We should not be as orphans, sad and discouraged. We are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. We are not only to acknowledge the Lord as our God and our Ruler, but we may call Him by the endearing name of Father. Our countenances should express His love and peace, His hope and joy; our lips should sing the praises of His holy name; our lives should tell of His goodness; our hearts should meditate upon His loving-kindness, his patience, and compassion, and His long-forbearance. 22LtMs, Ms 67, 1907, par. 20